The U.S. Senate today approved the surface transportation jobs bill to rebuild America's roads and bridges, modernize our transit systems, and create or save an estimated three million jobs. U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, applauded passage of the bill, which provides New Jersey with approximately $500 million for transit projects and nearly $1 billion in highway funds per year. The bill now goes to the President's desk for his signature.
"This surface transportation bill is a win for New Jersey, where we desperately need to upgrade our aging roads, bridges and railways," Lautenberg said. "Increased funding for transit is especially important in New Jersey and this bill will make a substantial investment in improving our train and bus systems. Transportation is the lifeblood of our region and this investment will help put people to work and boost our economy. Despite Republican opposition that stopped us from passing an even stronger bill, we will keep fighting to make transportation a priority."
In reference to the numerous transportation safety measures in the bill, Lautenberg added, "The safety and accessibility of America's surface transportation system is critical to our economy and the well-being of our families. The legislation will take vital steps to help to make sure trucks and buses are not a threat on our roadways and are only operated by the most qualified drivers."
The surface transportation reauthorization bill, known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), includes a number of critical initiatives championed by Senator Lautenberg:
Improving Bus and Truck Safety: The bill reauthorizes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to ensure only the safest motor carriers and drivers enter the truck and bus industries. This bill would also keep fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel by requiring trucks and buses to have electronic on-board recorders to better monitor how long drivers spend on duty.
Keeping Bigger, Heavier Trucks Off the Road: Senator Lautenberg worked successfully to block Republican efforts to increase the size and weight of trucks allowed on our highways, and to include a study of the impacts large trucks would have on highways and bridges.
Establishing National Freight Plan: Senator Lautenberg has championed provisions to improve our country's freight system. The final surface transportation bill includes several freight provisions, such as a national strategic freight plan.
Increasing Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety: The bill reauthorizes the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (OHMS) at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to require more training for emergency responders and give PHMSA more authority to punish shippers who break the rules or refuse to pay penalties.
Supporting Transportation Research and Innovation: The bill reauthorizes the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) to ensure that the Department of Transportation has the necessary resources to conduct transportation research and improve the way it gathers data for policy-making decisions.